Home to one of New York's largest Chinese and Korean populations, Flushing has long been a destination for foodies around the city pining for authentic Asian cuisine.
But for residents of this bustling Queens community, just across the bay from LaGuardia Airport, ordering takeout from Flushing's most popular Asian eateries and having it delivered has not always been easy.
Taiwanese-American James Chen, 39, is changing that with a website he and his two brothers launched calledflushingfood.com, which lets customers place online orders for 103 restaurants with menus in English, Chinese and Korean.
"We realized that most restaurants here don’t have a delivery service,” Chen told NBC News.
For the convenience of delivery, customers pay a 16 percent process fee that covers a tip and helps pay flushingfood.com's 15 deliverymen their $3,200 monthly salary without medical benefits, Chen said. The website also collects a 17 percent commission from participating restaurants on every order, he said.
Unlike Seamless and GrubHub, two popular platforms that let customers order online and require restaurants to make deliveries themselves, flushingfood.com supplies deliverymen for the Flushing restaurants listed on its site. This is enticing for eateries that use Chen's service - most of them Chinese and Korean - which don’t have the demand to employ full-time deliverymen, he said.
When an order is delivered, the customer needs only to sign a receipt. No cash is exchanged; only credit card payments are accepted through flushingfood.com's website. For the deliverymen - all salaried - it's what Chen describes as " a secure job."
At present, the site receives between 100 and 200 orders a day. By year’s end, Chen expects that number to rise to between 400 and 500, with more than 200 restaurants on-board, Chen said. He's planning a similar website launch on June 1 called ondelivery.com for restaurants in Manhattan's Chinatown, he said.
“We’ve always wanted to go to the city, because that’s where everything happens,” Chen said. “Chinatown needs the same kind of help that we’ve done so far in Flushing.”